It is not what happens to you, but what you think about what happens to you that creates your sorrow.
You have heard these words, probably hundreds of times, if you have been on the spiritual path any time at all, but have you ever really integrated these words into your conscious awareness. Do you honestly own the understanding of this Truth or do you merely have the words memorized, in some rote fashion without fully considering how they apply to your day-to-day life experience?
Consider these words from Joel Goldsmith, found in The Contemplative Life, “Nothing can come into your or my experience except through our own consciousness.”
Reading words and even understanding the words you read and all the possible implications of those words is not the same thing as really allowing the understanding of this concept to change the fundamental way you live your life.
I can give you a quick test to see if you have integrated the opening sentence or if you just understand its meaning in an intellectual way: Do things happen in your life which cause you to suffer? Do things happen which create stress in your life?
You see if you answer “yes” to either of these questions, you do not fully embrace the first sentence. You may very well understand it. You may be able to quote thirty different authors or speakers who have expressed this in similar ways, but if you still allow life’s events to cause you to be upset, you do not own this Truth.
It is the nature of thinking that it is never really present. It cannot be fully present because it is always behind whatever has just happened. By the time you are interpreting what you have just witnessed, the event you are reacting to is in the past. When you consider that ninety-nine percent of what bothers you is much further removed from your present moment than something which just occurred, you realize that you are allowing your thoughts to destroy your calm peace of mind.
It is not my intention to be critical here. I still have moments where I allow my thinking to destroy my peace. The frequency is less than in my past, but they still happen, typically when I am reacting to some situation before recognizing that my emotions have hijacked my sensibility. It’s like my mind is a wild horse and I, having dropped the reins, allowed my mind, no matter how briefly, to become my master.
What is different for me, today, from where I was thirty years ago, is that now I recognize, normally quite quickly, that my thinking has destroyed my experience of heaven here on earth, and I rapidly change my mind. You can do that too, and I will promise you that it is worthwhile.
When you fully understand that events have no power to disrupt your joy, and that it is only when you are allowing your untamed mind to run, unchecked, that you feel anxiety, you can easily make a different choice. You can simply say, “Stop it” to your out-of-control brain and once you have practiced this, sufficiently, your mind will have no choice but to comply. Of course, there can be other factors involved, like fear, which can make your mind harder to tame, but in time, with a suitable investment of effort, you can make your mind become your servant and not your master. Then you can really own the concept that it is your thinking which creates all of your misery, because you can witness and know, at once, that this statement is Truth.
I am going to close with identical ideas from two different sources:
- The problem is always a belief in your own thought. ~ Joel Goldsmith
- It is not possible to have a problem without believing a prior thought. To notice this simple truth is the beginning of peace. ~ Byron Katie
- The mind’s natural condition is peace. Then a thought enters, you believe it, and the peace seems to disappear. ~ Byron Katie
Thinking is dangerous, friend. Really understand this, especially when in the midst of challenging times, and you can return to peace as if you never entertained the thought in the first place. Your brain is going to think, as long as you are alive. That is a good thing. It is proof that you are still here with us on the human plane. Believing those thoughts, investing in those thoughts, and attaching to these thoughts, that is where every problem begins.
If you must believe your thoughts, believe in the idea of a peaceful, day-to-day experience. Let go of every other thought. Seek ye first peace and joy shall accompany you all the days of your life.